John Tregerthen Short's entry in his diary for 20 January 1820 was as follows:
The bottom of a vessel was observed about four miles from the land. The gigs went to the wreck, which proved to be the Riga Packet, of London, from the West Indies. Nothing has been heard of the crew.
On 26 January he wrote, “Three puncheons of rum landed, supposed to be part of the cargo of the Riga Packet.”
The Riga Packet was on a return trip from Demerara to London when she was dismasted and abandoned. Lloyd's List for 25 January 1820 confirms that boats from St Ives went out to her to try to get her under tow, but they were prevented by a heavy gale. The Riga Packet had been reported as passing Deal on 17 August 1819 and her arrival in Pernambuco was reported in the Public Ledger of 27 November 1819 but there is no further news of her until the report of her wreck.
Riga Packet was a 185 ton vessel built in 1802. She traded regularly on the London Permanbuco route under Captain Lumsdale. She was owned by Bothom & Co. of London.
Her loss and the lack of information regarding her crew makes clear the uncertain nature of the lives of seamen and their families at this time. The Riga Packet is just one of many shipping losses recorded in the diary of John Tregerthen Short.
Diary of John Tregerthen Short of St Ives.